High Deportation Figures Are Misleading

Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2014

Immigration activists have sharply criticized President Obama for a rising volume of deportations, labeling him the “deporter in chief” and staging large protests that have harmed his standing with some Latinos, a key group of voters for Democrats.

But the portrait of a steadily increasing number of deportations rests on statistics that conceal almost as much as they disclose. A closer examination shows that immigrants living illegally in most of the continental U.S. are less likely to be deported today than before Obama came to office, according to immigration data.

Expulsions of people who are settled and working in the United States have fallen steadily since his first year in office, and are down more than 40% since 2009.

On the other side of the ledger, the number of people deported at or near the border has gone up–primarily as a result of changing who gets counted in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s deportation statistics.

The vast majority of those border crossers would not have been treated as formal deportations under most previous administrations. If all removals were tallied, the total sent back to Mexico each year would have been far higher under those previous administrations than it is now.

The shift in who gets tallied helped the administration look tough in its early years but now may be backfiring politically. Immigration advocates plan protests across the country this week around what they say will be the 2 millionth deportation under Obama–a mark expected to be hit in the next few days. And Democratic strategists fret about a decline in Latino voter turnout for this fall’s election.

Until recent years, most people caught illegally crossing the southern border were simply bused back into Mexico in what officials called “voluntary returns,” but which critics derisively termed “catch and release.” Those removals, which during the 1990s reached more 1 million a year, were not counted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation statistics.

Now, the vast majority of border crossers who are apprehended get fingerprinted and formally deported. The change began during the George W. Bush administration and accelerated under Obama. The policy stemmed in part from a desire to ensure that people who had crossed into the country illegally would have formal charges on their records.

In the Obama years, all of the increase in deportations has involved people picked up within 100 miles of the border, most of whom have just recently crossed over. In 2013, almost two-thirds of deportations were in that category.

At the same time, the administration largely ended immigration roundups at workplaces and shifted investigators into targeting business owners who illegally hired foreign workers.

“If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero–it’s just highly unlikely to happen,” John Sandweg, until recently the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview.


Deportations of people apprehended in the interior of the U.S., which the immigration agency defines as more than 100 miles from the border, dropped from 237,941 in Obama’s first year to 133,551 in 2013, according to immigration data. Four out of five of those deportees came to the attention of immigration authorities after criminal convictions.

Many of those convictions are related to crossing the border–the other big consequence of the change in the way border removals are handled.


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  • Luca

    So, he’s lied about the figures and the media is playing this game of calling him the “Deporter-in-chief” to make it look like he’s tough. They have also told us the border has never been as secure as it is now.

    I am having a tough time here, should I believe the media and the administration, or should I use one ounce of common sense to realize this is the 47,856th time they have lied to us.

    • Nancy Thomas

      The media ALWAYS lies and covers for him. They were calling him deporter in chief to try to get white people to roll over for amnesty, then they realized that it was pissing off latinos, and with the elections coming they had to change the story and come clean to get latinos to turn out come November. Filthy lies and filthy scummy liars and they make me sick.

    • Reverend Bacon

      Yes, you have nailed his strategy. Clinton was a smoke-but-don’t inhale president, and that did him well. Think about it: don’t ask, don’t tell; go to Somalia but don’t give them the weapons they need; cheat on his wife but don’t actually have sex; everything he did was an actual compromise. And I’m not saying compromises are good things, but look at Obama: he’s a manufactured compromiser. Everything he does is extreme, but he’s manufactured all this stuff to his left so he looks Clintonian. He’s anti-white? well, yes, but he gets all the black preachers to protest him so he looks like he’s in the middle. Food stamps have gone through the roof under this Alpha Hotel? Well, yes, but he gets the blacks to protest him and ask for more. Again, he’s right there in the middle like Clinton. He’s the worst president ever for keeping the wetbacks away? Well, true, but he gets these morons to protest so he seems like King Solomon, again.

    • sbuffalonative

      A lie will travel half way around the world before the truth puts it’s boots on.

      It’s all about inserting the lie. Once the lie is in place, it’s almost impossible to dispute it even with facts.

  • Groovy

    When Obama starts issuing his executive orders,,re. immigration look out. He won’t care about the illegality of what he will be doing. He sees himself as being a great hero to the black and brown. We will be the president who really “fundamentally changed America”.

    • Nancy Thomas

      He has already basically given them all an executive amnesty. He won’t even deport the criminal illegals because criminals vote democrat.

  • My eyes tell me the truth. Few, if any, are deported. Look and ye shall know the truth.

  • Jesse James

    Have you ever noticed how people that make their living running their mouths: politicians, academics, and think tank gurus seem to confuse saying something with doing something?

    • “Words are actions.”
      –William Jefferson Clinton

      • Jesse James

        Exactly, he is the type of guy that will never get on the roof and fix the leak but will do his best to convince you to buy a gold plated bucket to catch the water dripping through the ceiling.

  • MBlanc46

    I certainly don’t mind going after business owners who hire illegals. It’s the only thing that will ever really solve the problem. But’s it despicable to not go after the cockroaches who treat our national border with contempt.

  • LHathaway

    Why doesn’t he discuss more illegal alien’s and the crimes they commit? Would be interested in seeing the crimes they commit and if they are deported or not. These deportations, as the spokesperson quoted in the article points out, are mostly do to criminal convictions.

    • Nancy Thomas

      As long as they rob and rape and kill white people, Obama is happy.

  • Nancy Thomas

    Numbersusa has been reporting on this for some time. Jeh Johnson even had to admit that Obama is a big liar.
    Something has to be done. There must be some legal remedy for this. Obama won’t even deport CRIMINAL illegals! The man is evil. He uses each and every arm of the government and every government agency as his own partisan anti-white destruction machinery. Jeff Sessions says that these moves are breathtaking and without precedent.
    Everyone here should be on the phone and writing letters to both the Senate and the Congress. Our border is wide open and not only are the American people totally unprotected, our access to jobs is also totally unprotected.
    This makes me sick to my stomach. I know it’s not right to hate anyone but I hate Obama for what he is doing to my country.

    • Jesse James

      There is a remedy for a President that refuses to require the executive branch and the governments host of agencies to follow the law – impeachment. We just don’t have enough decent Americans in Congress, who understand their responsibility to impeach a President who is deliberately and flagrantly breaking American law. You have heard of R2P in foreign policy – the responsibility to protect humans anywhere whose basic rights as human beings are being violated? I suggest a new term that we should bombard our Congress creatures with: R2I. Responsibility to Impeach.

  • Ringo Lennon

    Want to know how your county is doing racially? Google your county and state, then click on QuickFacts then in table look up whites non Hispanic. . Terrific site.

    • Alexandra1973

      Wayne County, Ohio. Numbers on the left are Wayne County, on the right the state of Ohio.

      White alone, percent, 2012 (a) 96.0%83.4%

      Black or African American alone, percent, 2012 (a) 1.6%12.5%

      American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2012 (a) 0.2%0.3%

      Asian alone, percent, 2012 (a) 0.8%1.8%

      Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2012 (a) ZZ

      Two or More Races, percent, 2012 1.4%2.0%

      Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2012 (b) 1.6%3.3%

      White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2012 94.6%80.7%

      • Ringo Lennon

        Nice county, this Wayne. Lucky people there!

      • Ringo Lennon

        Look at Los Angeles Co. Harris (Houston) Co.

  • Snazzy Snook

    Yeah it’s a high rate because they are counting the ones they catch at the border and turn right around and send home as a deportation .. Heard it the other night on FOX .. I didn’t have to read it here but thanks for posting ..

  • William Krapek

    “The policy stemmed in part from a desire to ensure that people who had crossed into the country illegally would have formal charges on their records.”

    Hey that’s at least a small victory. Yeah Obama took advantage of it it snooker everyone – including the tiny brains who support him – but I’ll take it. In the future it could lead to some very nice leverage.